Singer Tina Turner has experienced many pivotal moments in her 78 years, but none were more important than the night in 1976 when she found the courage to leave her abusive husband, musician Ike Turner.
Following a blowout fight in Dallas, after which, she writes in her memoir, Tina Turner: My Love Story, that “My face was swollen and my once-beautiful suit was splattered with blood,” she waited for Ike to fall asleep. “Then I got the hell out of that room and out of that life… I was terrified, but I was also excited. I wasn’t just running away from Ike. I was running toward a new life.”
Tina was 37 and had been in a violent marriage with Ike for 14 years. It’s been a long road from her early years as young Anna Mae Bullock in Nutbush, TN to international superstar as she anticipates the opening of the new Broadway musical based on her life.
“Like the sweet and spunky child in the show,” she has said, “I had entered the world unloved, but I went on.” Now Tina is also telling her heartwrenching story in her new memoir, Tina Turner: My Love Story, in which she reveals new details of her struggles, along with how she discovered the strength to rebuild her life and find lasting love with her husband, Erwin Bach, 62. “I almost lost everything… until love saved me,” she said. “And still I go on.”
When Tina was 11, her mother, whom she calls Muh, abandoned the family, something the singer struggled to come to terms with. After they reconnected, she said, “I realize Muh and I were either estranged or at odds with each other our whole lives.” But even then, Tina, who has since become a Buddhist, kept forging ahead. “I guess you could say I was born with a Buddha nature inside of me because the miracle is that I didn’t give up,” she said.
She kept going after she had her first son, Craig, at 18, with Kings of Rhythm saxophonist Raymond Hill, who disappeared from her life. She stayed strong after she started singing with Ike, when she experienced his violent temper and controlling ways, but then married him. They had a son, Ronnie, in 1960.
Shockingly, Tina said following their Tijuana, Mexico, civil ceremony, Ike took her “to a whorehouse. On my wedding night!” By 1966, desperate for release, Tina downed a bottle of sleeping pills, but again she survived. And she says the experience taught her “I was here for a reason… I was meant to survive.”
And she did. After finally leaving Ike, Tina became a solo star, selling over 200 million albums with many hit songs, including “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” In 1989, she finally found happiness with German music executive Erwin, whom she calls “the love-at-first-sight love of my life.” They married in 2013 and now live in Switzerland.
More recently, Tina has suffered health issues (Erwin donated a kidney to her in 2017), and heartbreak when son Craig committed suicide in July. “There were tears and cries of disbelief. A stabbing pain in my heart,” she said. But through it all she’s remained indomitable. “Joy came out of pain,” she said. “And I have never been so completely happy as I am today.”
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